From left, Tara Martin, Lisa Snow, Jeff LaBelle and Jessica Rice completed the process of earning National Board Certification. The National Board Certified Teachers teach at Eastside Catholic School in Sammamish. Photo courtesy of Eastside Catholic School

From left, Tara Martin, Lisa Snow, Jeff LaBelle and Jessica Rice completed the process of earning National Board Certification. The National Board Certified Teachers teach at Eastside Catholic School in Sammamish. Photo courtesy of Eastside Catholic School

Eastside teachers earn National Board Certification

Eastside Catholic School teachers earn highest mark of achievement.

Eastside Catholic School celebrated four teachers who recently earned their National Board Certification.

This year, the school is one of 182 schools nationwide to have three or more teachers awarded as National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT).

The Catholic school recognized Jessica Rice, Lisa Snow, Tara Martin and Jeff LaBelle.

School president Gil Picciotto said the four teachers represent a holistic approach to education.

“A good teacher not only improves a student’s test score — [a good teacher also] inspires a student’s desire to learn and to be a critical independent thinker within the context of a life of leadership and service to others,” Picciotto said in a press release.

The certification was designed to develop, retain and recognize accomplished teachers to generate ongoing improvement in schools nationwide, according to the board.

The process to become certified requires teachers to demonstrate standard-based evidence of the positive effect they have on student learning in alignment with the five core propositions: commitment to students and their learning; knowledge of the subject they teach and how they teach those subjects to students; responsibility for managing and monitoring student learning and the ability think systematically about their practice and learn from experience. Teachers also need to be members of professional learning communities.

Snow, a Snoqualmie resident and English high school teacher, said the process to become certified was arduous but she found it rewarding.

“It was affirming to know that fellow teachers saw my portfolios and recognized my teaching as accomplished,” Snow said. “I am proud to be certified at this high of a level certification, and I am happy to see my hard work pay off.”

Snow added that she enjoys teaching English to her high school students.

“The natural progress from struggle to productive struggle to understanding is fulfilling to watch,” Snow said. “I live for the moments when you see the light bulb go off — the student’s face lights up, and they are so blessed by their own efforts and results… it is a blessing to have a small part in the development of the next generation.”

Teachers commit substantial time and energy to pursue the certification. They have to go above and beyond their typical workload to complete the certification process.

The certification process requires teachers to analyze their teaching context and their students’ needs, submit videos of their teaching and provide student work samples that demonstrate growth and achievement. Teachers must also submit a reflective analysis that demonstrates a strong command of content and showcases their ability to create appropriate learning experiences that help advance student learning. The certification process typically takes more than a year to complete.

The process was a three year journey for Snow.

“I thought that the questions I was asked to reflect over and the teaching that I was asked to examine were productive for my growth,” Snow said. “I thought about teaching deeply, and my teaching practice grew as a result.”

Receiving her certification was relieving.

“Being a NBCT strengthens my confidence in my practice, and it makes me want to continue developing my skills as an educator,” Snow said. “It is nice to be included in a group with colleagues I respect and admire as teachers.”

LaBelle, an Issaquah resident and English teacher, said pursing the National Board Certification offered a pathway to further his state certification and to validate what was happening in his classroom.

“I was relieved when I learned I was certified. I know that roughly half of the submissions don’t on the first try,” LaBelle said. “Naturally, I was ecstatic. I’m proud of the work I do in the classroom, and it’s nice to earn nationally-recognized certification to validate that.”

A Sammamish resident, Martin has been teaching Spanish to middle school and high school students at Eastside Catholic for eight years.

Martin was encouraged to pursue her certification by colleagues at Eastside Catholic who had previously earned their certification. Her colleagues were leading groups to help teachers go through the process.

“By going through the NBTC process, it helped me realize what areas of teaching I needed to improve upon,” Martin said. “[It] served as a good reminder of ways to keep analyzing student data, effectively planning lessons, reflecting on the effectiveness of lessons, collaborating with colleagues, attending professional development to hone my weak skills in a given area, and inspire me to keep learning and teaching about culture.”

Martin added how earning her certification is a great way to keep improving one’s teaching abilities without the large investment in a PhD.

The newly-certified teachers join nine other Eastside Catholic faculty members who have previously been awarded National Board Certification.

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